Du"ty (?), n.; pl. Duties (#). [From Due.]


That which is due; payment.

[Obs. as signifying a material thing.]

When thou receivest money for thy labor or ware, thou receivest thy duty. Tyndale.


That which a person is bound by moral obligation to do, or refrain from doing; that which one ought to do; service morally obligatory.

Forgetting his duty toward God, his sovereign lord, and his country. Hallam.


Hence, any assigned service or business; as, the duties of a policeman, or a soldier; to be on duty.

With records sweet of duties done. Keble.

To employ him on the hardest and most imperative duty. Hallam.

Duty is a graver term than obligation. A duty hardly exists to do trivial things; but there may be an obligation to do them. C. J. Smith.


Specifically, obedience or submission due to parents and superiors.



Respect; reverence; regard; act of respect; homage.

"My duty to you."


6. Engin.

The efficiency of an engine, especially a steam pumping engine, as measured by work done by a certain quantity of fuel; usually, the number of pounds of water lifted one foot by one bushel of coal (94 lbs. old standard), or by 1 cwt. (112 lbs., England, or 100 lbs., United States).

7. Com.

Tax, toll, impost, or customs; excise; any sum of money required by government to be paid on the importation, exportation, or consumption of goods.

⇒ An impost on land or other real estate, and on the stock of farmers, is not called a duty, but a direct tax. [U.S.]

Ad valorem duty, a duty which is graded according to the cost, or market value, of the article taxed. See Ad valorem. -- Specific duty, a duty of a specific sum assessed on an article without reference to its value or market. -- On duty, actually engaged in the performance of one's assigned task.


© Webster 1913.